Procol Harum

the Pale

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I am a hopeless Procoholic

Jose Rios's impressions of Guildford and Southend '98

Thanks, Jose

Jose Rios came all the way from Peru for the Gary Brooker and friends Christmas concerts in Guildford and Southend. When he heard that somebody was coming this far, Gary Brooker was very concerned that he would be disappointed as it was not a Procol Harum concert. (The band was billed as Gary Brooker and Friends in Guildford and as No Stiletto Shoes in Southend). Jose assured him he would not be disappointed, and here is his report from the trip, verifying that he indeed was very glad he came.

I am sitting in my Miami hotel room, just arrived from the airport; it has been 24 hours since I left my Southend hotel room and I have still to catch a 6-hour flight home to Lima, Peru.

It is difficult to describe the mix of adrenaline, emotion and fatigue after a Friday and Saturday that will remain in my memory for ever. If you are sitting there and have had the luck of seeing Procol Harum or Gary Brooker before I am sure that you will know what I am talking about.

The Guildford gig was my 'début' in this 'Procol - Brooker' live experience. My favourite number was Conquistador really difficult to hold tears ! (after having been previously almost successful when the band played Real Attitude (this song must be in a new Procol record !!)) and Homburg. After this A Whiter Shade of Pale was a wonderful wrap for a wonderful concert.

But . this was not all, the gig is over and all in a sudden I am backstage saying, 'Hello Mr. Brooker: I have been waiting for this moment for 25 years,' and when I thought he was going to reply, 'Life is like a beanstalk, isn't it?' he said, 'Oh, I forgot to tell you that next week we will play in Peru.'

At the Sports pub in Jarvis Hotel, Guildford

From left: Jose (Peru), Dave and Louise (UK), Jonas (Sweden)

Next day find myself at the Tower Hotel drinking beers with a bunch of wonderful people from England, Scotland, Portugal, Germany, Sweden and of course Norway, all like a family of 'Procoholics' waiting that 'still there will be more'. The Riga club is a small cosy place where around 160 people including Angela (Gary's sister) gather and listen to an exquisite set of R&B songs most of them which I have never heard before (some were also played at Guildford) and which I am glad and delighted to know now.

After the gig Mr Brooker is standing at the bar and I say, 'Well Mr Brooker, I enjoyed every minute of my trip.' He signs a concert poster and I tell him, 'Don't worry, I won't bother you till next year.'

Now I recall the whole experience it is difficult to separate the emotion of having heard some of my all-time favourite tunes, the exciting experience of meeting Gary and his wife, and the incredible moments I spent with such wonderful bunch of fellows from different countries.

I will tell everybody from all around the world that it's worth flying all the miles you need to, and be sure that you will have the 'time of your life'. Believe me, no money can buy what you feel and experience: I strongly encourage Procol fans from all around the world to 'support the cause'.

The author of this article photographed at Club Riga, Southend Saturday 19th December.

Now it is time to plan my next vacation: fortunately I have a frequent-flyer bonus miles so I told my wife, 'OK we got tickets for free, let's take the kids to Orlando, end of March would be perfect.' (I have to tell her later that she will go to a Ringo Starr concert but she does not know who is playing with Ringo!). So let's plan ... dreaming is for free ! (maybe). (Now I must convince my boss that I need vacation in March) Anyhow I told Mr Brooker that I would not bother him until next year so I will try to fulfil my promise! (partly because I consider myself a man of honour, but mainly because I am a hopeless Procoholic!).

Pages about the 1998 Christmas concerts

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